All of us at Wing are incredibly pleased to welcome Jake Flomenberg as our newest partner! Jake will lead investments and help build companies in compelling technology sectors like data analytics, cybersecurity and AI, where he is among our industry’s most knowledgeable and value-added investors. But before I talk much more about Jake, please allow a bit of a digression…
We are often asked what makes a great venture investor. This is a difficult question as there is no “one path” that the stars of our industry have followed. There are some core essentials, though, especially when it comes to early stage investing with a long-term outlook – which is what we do here at Wing.
Of course a great venture investor needs to be smart, but Silicon Valley abounds with smart people. Insight and judgment are in scarcer supply. By insight, I mean the ability to discern what truly matters and develop a distinctive, often proprietary point of view. By judgment, I mean the ability to make a sound and possibly controversial decision, with conviction, in the face of massive uncertainty. Both insight and judgment lie at the very heart of the venture discipline.
Operating skill is another important dimension. While it is not necessary that a great venture investor be a former CEO or have decades of operating experience, it is a requirement that they be a strong contributor in long-term company-building efforts. This does not mean meddling or micro-managing! It’s about wielding the right influence at the right time, making a difference on the things that really matter at each phase of a company’s development.
The learning mindset is another key factor. Early stage investors in particular need to be intellectually curious and wide open to the unexpected – which is where the companies of generational significance tend to come from. Venture capitalists who think they have all the answers will inevitably miss the breakout opportunities.
Perhaps most important of all is the ability to forge deep partnerships with exceptional founders. It’s a special type of leadership and the hallmark of great early stage investors. The working relationship, mutual respect and unshakable trust forged in the start-up crucible becomes the bedrock on which long term success is built. Doing this well requires all sorts of intangibles, including openness, empathy and honesty. This applies within the venture firm as well and is critical when you are building a partnership that will lead for generations, as we are doing at Wing.
Which brings us back to Jake Flomenberg! Jake is an unusual talent, and has that rare combination of insight, judgment, operating skill, the learning mindset and deep partnering ability that we have found to be essential in early stage venture capital. He brings unmatched expertise on questions of product and market fit, which are of course make-or-break factors for young companies. Jake has already made an impact in exciting companies like Sumo Logic and Demisto and is widely acknowledged by the founders he works with as their go-to partner and a key contributor to their success.
Jake hails from Accel Partners, which is of course my own “alma mater” as well. Accel is well known as a superb identifier and developer of next generation venture talent. Many of our industry’s superstars received their early apprenticeships at the firm. One of Wing’s strengths is our ability to fuse the very best attributes of great firms like Accel and Sequoia (where my co-founder Gaurav learned his trade) into a new model purpose-built for our unique mission. We are excited to be working with Jake as we take the next step in this mission and look forward to helping build many great companies together!